Gakwonsa Temple (One Year Later)

One year later, I made it back to Gakwonsa temple. What a difference a single year makes!

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This is still my favorite building in the area

Some of my friends came with me this year. We discovered that the lake near the temple now has a walkway along it, and the water’s full of fish and turtles.

Additionally, the full-on construction work that was happening next to the main temple looks about finished. There wasn’t any screeching machinery or people yelling out instructions. And the main temple was open to everyone this time around. (Last year, they had closed it for some painting work.)

After leaving the main temple, I found the spot where I took that picture of the Buddha statue last year. The sky was overcast and one of my friends was there to pose for the size comparison. I couldn’t have been any happier.

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Really, I’m always happy at Gakwonsa. The views are always beautiful, no matter what the weather or season.

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Thanks for reading,

Emme

 

 

Arashiyama

Arashiyama was easily the highlight of my trip to Kyoto.

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I didn’t have the money for bus fare (long story), so I got up at 4 a.m. and walked three hours to get there before the crowds converged on it.
I was very tired by the time I arrived, but it was well worth the effort. Only three people (including me) were there.

With a fence on either side of the path, you can’t just wander off into the bamboo. That dampened my sense of adventure for a brief moment.

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However, staring at the bamboo and listening to the wind whispering all around me gave me a great sense of peace. I left feeling very relaxed and ready for the rest of my day.

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If I ever go back to Kyoto, it’ll be to see this place one more time.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

Seonimgyo Bridge

Seonimgyo Bridge is an arch bridge that crosses over the stream between the second and third tiers of Cheonjeyeon waterfall. There are seven nymphs carved on each side of it, referencing the Korean legend about seven nymphs that descended from heaven each night to bathe in the waterfall’s pond.

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The bridge is steep, not to mention a little unnerving, since the only thing separating you from a sheer drop is ONE. CHEST-HIGH. RAILING.

It connects Cheonjeyeon with the Jungmun Tourist Complex, although I didn’t stray too far into that area because I hadn’t gone to see the third waterfall yet. I did stop to appreciate the pagoda and the unexpected view of Cheonjeyeon Falls, though.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

T Express

The rollercoaster cars rattled overhead again and again as we waited in line. I could hardly stop bouncing in my excitement. This marked the first time I had had the opportunity to ride a rollercoaster since a family trip to Six Flags many years before.

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Needless to say, T Express did not disappoint. The first drop made my stomach shoot straight up into my esophagus. We all screamed as we rattled around each corner, back and forth until finally, finally, we reached the finish.

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I later learned that not only is T Express South Korea’s first wooden rollercoaster, but that it’s also in the top ten for every extreme stat. For example: it’s the second-steepest wooden rollercoaster in the world, only bested by Outlaw Run in the USA.

The lines at Everland were long, so this ended up being the one coaster I rode that day…which was more than enough!

Six Flags, who?

Thanks for reading,

Emme

The Waterfalls of Seogwipo

When I went to Jeju Island, my main goal was to see the various waterfalls scattered about/near Seogwipo. I ran off to find Jeongbang Waterfall pretty much the moment after I had safely stored my bags in my hostel!

Jeongbang Waterfall is the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the ocean. This was the first waterfall I went to see after my arrival, and it was definitely worth the walk.

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Jeongbang Waterfall

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Sojeongbang Waterfall is much smaller than Jeongbang, but it’s worth a visit if you’ve got the time. The stairs curve up right next to it!

Cheonjeyeon Falls actually consists of three waterfalls, which you reach via a series of footbridges. I spent the most time here compared to any other waterfall.

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Cheonjeyeon Falls

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The Second Waterfall

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The Third Waterfall

Then, finally, I hit up Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, which did not disappoint!

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Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

…I think it’s safe to say that I filled my waterfall quota for the trip. Thanks, Seogwipo.

And thanks for reading,

Emme

The Everland Zoo

The Everland Zoo is lovely, considering that it’s part of a theme park.

It was neat to see a panda up close, for example. And I appreciated how the workers regularly walked through the crowd, warning everyone to pipe down so that they didn’t disturb the animals. (Be nice to animals, y’all!!)

Marmosets clung to the bars of a large cage alongside an elevated forest path. The path itself led down, down, down — to the tigers, gibbons, penguins, and more.

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The elevated path.

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The view from the path.

The gibbons hung out on two small islands, crossing back and forth via a large rope stretched out over the water. Fennec foxes were running around in a small desert space. The coatimundis were able to use a series of bridges to travel to different enclosures, walking just above the heads of the human visitors below.

All in all, the zoo was a delightful way to spend a few hours, taking a breather between all of the rollercoasters….

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Thanks for reading,

Emme

A Korean Baseball Game

Don’t get me wrong: I love baseball. (Although, I’m a Cubs fan, so an argument could be made that I love it in a masochistic sort of way).

However, I’m very well aware that American baseball is extremely boring to watch in person. The crowd’s noise going from a dull murmur to complete silence whenever a player steps up to bat. The polite clapping whenever a ball connects with the bat. The fact that you can have a conversation with the person next to you at any point of the game without anyone having to raise their voice to be heard. I, a spectator, getting really excited about a popcorn and a Coke from the concession stand just because it gives me something to DO.

Based on this, imagine my surprise when I went to a Korean baseball game and discovered a completely different world, full of yelling and cheering. For a minute, I thought I had accidentally walked into a soccer match instead. Or a frickin’ hockey game!

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Just to start, the crowd had a full song/chant for every player, which matched the player’s chosen intro music. I got caught up into the collective energy very quickly, singing along and yelling encouragement to each player as they approached home plate. (No silence to be found here — when each player was up to bat, the crowd only increased its volume). Many people also bought thunder sticks from vendors outside of the stadium and used them the entire time. It was a sea of undulating thunder sticks!

And then, of course, there were the usual crowd-pleasing contests to kill time between innings — the two-person races, the dancers, the kiss cam, and more. Everything felt more exciting this time around, though, because the crowd was so into everything.

I can’t wait to go back. GO, DOOSAN!!!

Thanks for reading,

Emme

The Boryeong Mud Festival

Just to get the criticisms out of the way, here are the two things that bugged me at the Boryeong Mud Festival:

There was no free-for-all mud area. That meant that everyone was stuck waiting in line for hours just to play a mud game for a couple of minutes. The line I stood in actually wrapped around the mud pit THREE TIMES and I ended up waiting for more than an hour.

Also, be sure to bring shoes that you don’t love because you will lose them. There’s no security area for your shoes and you’re required to take them off before entering the mud zone. Mine were stolen by the end of the day.

ANYWAY…there were good moments, too. Once my group actually got in the mud area, for example, we had a good time splashing around and getting completely DIRTY. The mud was fun!

Also, there was plenty to do on the beach! They had an air show overhead, followed by a hydroflying show on the water. The K-Pop concert at the end of the night gathered quite a crowd. (KILLIN’ IT, CHEETAH!) I chatted to a lot of friendly street food vendors.

In the end, I went home tired, sunburnt, and feeling really satisfied. Boryeong is worth checking out, especially during the Mud Festival.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

The Walk to Jeongbang Falls

On my first morning in the city of Seogwipo, I checked out a map and saw that I was only about a 25-minute walk from Jeongbang Falls. So I just started walkin’.

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I began following a road that twisted its way back and forth through the thick trees. A light rain began to fall, prompting me to put on my poncho.

Then, I found a small temple in the forest. Two dogs that were chained up outside growled at me, so I didn’t linger too long.

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Then I crossed a river.

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Along this path, I encountered a trio of fishermen casting their lines out into the water. They were standing at the entrance to a bridge underpass, so I had to inch past them, smiling while saying a quiet “실례합니다.” They nodded and smiled back.

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Then I was in a garden area. Thanks to monsoon season, I was the only person present at the time.

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Through that hobbit-like entrance, there was a large path that clearly led to the waterfall. The map had been right.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

Cafe Cenacle

Cafe Cenacle was another pleasant surprise. I think that this one has a couple of locations in Cheonan; I went to the one in Dujeongdong.

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I’ve been here a few times since my first visit, but I’ve always gotten an iced latte because it is HOT right now in Korea. (Go away, summer!)

There are several different seating options at this place, including some spots up in a small balcony, beneath that fake tree. That’s where I like to go.

That way, I’m still appreciating the sunlight…while sitting in an air-conditioned room and drinking from an iced coffee. My kind of place!

Thanks for reading,

Emme